The (un)Official King Cake Diet

The (un)Official King Cake Diet

Let me get this out of the way, I have a thing for king cake. Ya know, that traditional cake that pops up every year on 12th Night and lasts through the rest of carnival. The King Cake, aka Three Kings Cake, is often associated with the epiphany and includes a hidden figurine inside the cake, supposedly to represent the baby Christ. Or maybe you don’t know, you’ve never been to New Orleans or you’ve been but never for Carnival. Well, the cake is pretty awesome, but that’s not what makes it special. What makes it special is that you have a finite amount of time to eat it. Sometimes it’s four weeks, sometimes eight; just depends how long the carnival season is that particular year.

This year, carnival season is nice and long, a whole eight weeks to enjoy the king cake. And to make matters better (or worse), I’ve gotten a job at the King Cake Hub, where over 60 different kinds of king cake are for sale. I’ve managed to try about ten of them so far, but that’s only because I’ve been out of town for the past week. Many of the other popular ones I’ve tasted in the past, and they rarely disappoint. But this year, I’ve been trying something different. My new year’s resolution was to lose some weight, 15 pounds to be exact. How does one go about dieting during Carnival Season? Well, here is how you do it in nine easy steps.

The King Cake Diet

Step 1: Find a good source for your king cake.

The King Cake Hub is great because there’s so much variety in one place, but if you live too far from Zony Mash, you’ll have to find several bakeries in your area to purchase the cakes. Although some bakeries have dozens of different flavors, I highly suggest you sample from multiple bakeries to prevent king cake burnout. If you are overwhelmed with the number of choices, your best bet is to go out and buy a copy of the brand new “Big Book of King Cake” which features a whopping 75 different bakeries and the stories behind the families that create them.

Step 2: Size matters.

King cakes come in all sizes and generally have a one week shelf-life, but if you’re eating king cake twice a day (yes, you read that right), then you might want to either get small king cakes or find friends and family that will help you eat them. By Day 3, you’re going to need a new flavor. Also, it is imperative that you keep the size of the pieces to a 1-2 inch width. Anything larger than two inches and you are not going to lose much weight. Don’t be greedy, you have another hundred or so pieces to eat. Keep ’em small if you can.

Step 3: Timing is Everything

Man, if you start eating king cake at seven in the morning, you are gonna be seriously hungry by the end of the day. Don’t be a pig. Grab a cup of coffee, hold out for a few hours. No king cake before 9am. That second piece of cake has to come before dinner or after lunch, depending on when your other meal is going to be. Absolutely no king cake after 7pm. Not only will you not lose weight, you have no way to work off those carbs.

Step 4: Dry January

You’re getting way more carbs, sugar, and fat than you normally get so you gotta give up something. Booze is an absolute must. If you can’t go one month without drinking, then you’re probably an alcoholic. With the majority of parades, parties and balls in February this year, abstaining for a month is the very least you can do to keep up with the diet. You’re also going to have to make some adjustments to your typical debauchery and pace yourself this year. Maybe skip those beers at the parades, stick to clear alcohol, put away the funnel, and leave those daiquiris for the summer months. While you’re at it, stay away from Popeye’s too. When you do reach for a beer or bottle, make sure it tastes like king cake. Zony Mash’s King Cake Porter and the Taaka King Cake Vodka make a nice substitution for one of your king cake meals.

Step 5: The Other Meal

The tuna tataki at Kyoto 2 in Harahan
A healthy meal of Tuna Tataki from Kyoto 2 in Harahan

OK, fatso. Not carbs in your other meal(s). If you have the luxury of dining alone, make it one meal in the middle of the day or late afternoon. If you’re with a family, make it two smaller meals. No matter what, though, keep those potatoes, croutons, rice, tacos, and other starches off your plate. Go with a high protein diet of fish, red meat, or chicken and plenty of steamed or roasted veggies. Better yet, head over to the Crescent City Farmer’s Market and load up on organic veggies that are hard to find at your local Winn-Dixie. If you like sushi, stick to sashimi or tuna tataki. Poke bowls on mixed greens make a nice hearty lo-carb meal. Don’t go anywhere near your favorite po-boy shop. You’re sitting them out until Lent.

Step 6: Walk A-Lot

5000 steps. It’s a reasonable goal. It’s the very least you can do when you’re eating cake all day long. Take the dogs for longer walks. Walk to work. Park your car further away. Get a little exercise in that overweight body. 5000 steps equals two and a half miles. If you can do more, great. If you do less, you’re pretty pathetic. Don’t blame the weather, don’t blame the early sunset. Just find a way to make it happen. Get that blood flowing. Work off those carbs and start watching the weight disappear.

Step 7: Drink Plenty of Water

I love Coke. I can drink it all day long, but I’d be about 300 pounds. Diet Coke tastes nasty to me so the only option I have is to abstain. This is pretty much normal unless I’m at Stein’s Deli because there really is no substitute to drinking soda with a Reuben. So if I’m not drinking beer, wine or tequila, I’m drinking water. But during the king cake diet, I’m doubling up on the water intake. I think it’s the additional sugars that are making me thirsty. I’ve been pounding water like it going out of style. Drink at least a gallon a day. More if you can. Get that body cleaned out of all its toxins.

Step 8: Love Gluten

So I’ve seen some bakeries doing gluten-free king cakes. WTF? Why? Just why? Yes, I know some people have a gluten intolerance, but some things are just not meant to be gluten-free. King cake is one of them. If you have a gluten allergy, diabetes, acid-reflux, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, headaches, heartburn, vomiting, cramps, gas, or any other food-related allergen, you shouldn’t be eating king cake at all, let alone doing a king cake diet. Go find a diet that better suits your tastes.

Bananas Foster King Cake from Zony Mash
The Bananas Foster King Cake from Brennan’s has been a huge hit at our house

Step 9: Share the Love

If you love king cake as much as I do, share the king cake diet with your friends and neighbors. They might think you’re crazy, but I’ve lost eight pounds in just over two weeks. That fifteen pounds is well within reach. Might have to continue laying off the booze, but one way or another, I’ll reach my goal. If your friends from out of town want to join you on the diet, head over to Caluda’s King Cakes on Citrus Avenue in Harahan and pre-order weekly shipments to the dieter. It’ll cost them about $40 per order, but it will be the best tasting diet they’ve ever had.

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